Arizona is a dream location for the quail lover, enjoying four of the six huntable species of quail found in North America. In addition to those four species, Arizona is lucky enough to still have the Masked Bobwhite, and has hopes of re-intoducing that bird to the wild some day.
The most well known of the 'desert quail', Gambel's are quickly identified by the 'topknot' found atop the head of both males and females. Located in dry regions of the southwestern United States, Gambel's quail thrive in the dry-arid regions containing an abundance of desert shrubs. Coveys of Gambel's are more apt to run than fly, and hold better for dogs once split out of the covey into smaller groups, pairs, or singles.
Also known as blue quail, scaled quail are known for their head with a crested tip of white and their blue scaled appearance. The scaled quail is found in arid grassland and desert shrub areas in the southern and western parts of the United States. They often prefer cover that consists of brush piles or piles of wood.
With the smallest range in the United States, the Mearn's quail is found primarily in Arizona, but also cover small areas of Texas and New Mexico. They live in mountain areas populated with oak and juniper trees as well as grasslands. Often referred to as Montezuma quail, they have a unique coloration of feathers which aids them in hiding from predators.
The valley quail, also known as the California quail, covers the largest range of any 'western' quail. Valley quail cover parts of Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and even into Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. These birds tend to roost in trees and can form large coveys with hundreds of birds. Valley quail choose foothills, valleys with grassland, moist chaparral, and scattered trees as their habitat of choice.
Discovered in Arizona in the 1860s, due to destructive cattle grazing techniques and several years of drought, the masked bobwhite virtually disappeared by the early 1900s and was placed on the Endagered Species list. In Arizona, the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is the only verifiable site to see the bird. However, with careful management and the current initiatives to re-establish native grasslands, this species of quail can make a comeback.